The 2012 SEC Championship Game has been set, as the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide will play the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs at the Georgia Dome. With a virtual Georgia home game coming in a matter of days, each team will prepare for the fight of their lives with a BCS Championship Game bid likely on the line.
So what are the odds that the Bulldogs choke again in the SEC Championship Game?
One year ago, Georgia started the season 0-2 with crushing losses to Boise State and South Carolina. They proceeded to win 10 consecutive games and qualify for the 2011 SEC Championship Game, thus setting up a date with the then No. 1 LSU Tigers.
Upon arriving to the biggest game of the season, Georgia was blown out of the building. The Bulldogs would lose 42-10.
The label of choke artists was instantly placed upon Mark Richt's crew.
One year later, Georgia has an opportunity to right past wrongs. This will be no easy task, however, as Alabama has been consistently dominant and Georgia's lone loss came by a score of 35-7 at South Carolina.
The Bulldogs choked once already. Will they again?
To answer that question, we must answer another. Which Georgia team will we see?
The team that fails to show up to its most significant games? Or the one that blows out cupcake opponents and impressively defeated Florida 17-9?
Only time will tell, but how about some supporting evidence for either side?
Measuring Their History of Revenge
One year removed from their underwhelming SEC Championship Game loss, the Bulldogs have a shot at revenge. With the game coming in the Georgia Dome, the Bulldogs have a home-field advantage that gives them a chance to gain vengeance.
Isn't it? Allow history to answer that.
Much like a year ago, Georgia is on an extensive winning streak. After winning 10 straight in 2011, the Bulldogs have won six in a row in 2012.
Although revenge may be on their side, history is not.
Georgia has been here before and responded poorly. The Bulldogs lost 45-42 against South Carolina in 2011 but showed no urgency at all by dropping a 35-7 drubbing in 2012.
Their third consecutive loss to the Gamecocks. A sign that revenge may not be much of a factor, after all.
Bulldog fans may not want to hear this, but the past is a sign that there will be a new streak of consecutive losses during the SEC Championship.
No Longer Inexperienced
One year ago, the Georgia Bulldogs entered the SEC Championship Game with tons of inexperience. They were led by a sophomore quarterback in Aaron Murray, freshman running back in Isaiah Crowell, freshman wide receiver in Malcolm Mitchell and sophomore linebacker in Jarvis Jones.
One year later, three of those four players are bound together by experience.
Murray, Jones and Mitchell are now unquestioned leaders of the team. They have guided the likes of freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, as well as linebacker Alec Ogletree, to legitimacy.
In turn, they've succeeded in establishing two-way dominance. So why believe that they can't pull this one out?
Murray, Gurley and Marshall make for one of the top backfields in the nation. Murray has a passer rating of 177.1, ranking first in the nation and edging out Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.
Gurley and Marshall, meanwhile, have combined for 1858 yards and 22 touchdowns. Gurley ranks second in the SEC with 1138 yards and 14 touchdowns on his own.
All that's left is a quality defense to keep each game close. Fortunately, Georgia's D exceeds that level of expectation.
It has been one of the most dominant forces in the SEC.
Defense Wins Championships
Georgia's Jarvis Jones joins Notre Dame's Manti Te'o as the defensive players involved in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy. On the season, Jones has tallied 66 tackles, 45 solo, 10.5 sacks and one interception.
Mind-blowing numbers that have come despite the fact that Jones has missed three games.
Joining Jones on defense is one of the most well-rounded groups of talent in the nation. With Baccarri Rambo at safety, Alec Ogletree at linebacker and John Jenkins at defensive tackle, there are playmakers throughout.
Which is a primary reason they're allowing just 18.4 points and forcing 2.1 turnovers per game.
Alabama's A.J. McCarron may be responsible with the football, but don't think that the Bulldogs can't break through an inconsistent Alabama offensive line. McCarron has been sacked 12 times during the second half this season.
If the Crimson Tide O-Line continues to falter during the final two quarters, Georgia's opportunistic defense could be the difference in this game. The fact that it has a high-powered offense only helps its cause.
Georgia may or may not win this ball game. What it will not do, however, is choke another one up.
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